Thongchai Thailand

WMO REPORT DEC 2020

Posted on: December 3, 2020

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RELATED POST: THE WMO IS AN AGENCY OF THE UN: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/03/31/wmo/

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RELATED POST: THE WMO REPORT OF MARCH 2020: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/09/28/the-wmo-state-of-the-climate-march-2020/

PART-1: ITEM BY ITEM RESPONSE TO WHAT THE WMO REPORT SAYS

  1. CLAIM: 2020, is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015. Modern temperature records began in 1850. This assessment is based on five global temperature datasets. All five of those datasets currently place 2020 as the 2nd warmest for the year to date, following 2016 and ahead of 2019. RESPONSE: Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a theory about the impact of fossil fuel emissions described as a long term warming trend in global mean temperature. Temperature events whether at annual or decadal time scales have no interpretation in terms of AGW as they are both time and geography constrained. The effect of AGW on temperature can only be assessed as long term trends over more than 30 years of mean temperature for the earth or for significant latitudinal sections thereof. The temperature events cited as evidence of AGW are irrelevant in this context.
  2. CLAIM: Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, committing the planet to further warming for many generations to come because of the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere. RESPONSE: Although this claim is being proposed by the WMO to support the theory of AGW, we note that this theory begins with the assumption that the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration are caused by fossil fuel emissions. The observed absence of this response reported here does not support AGW theory but proves it wrong.
  3. CLAIM: The most notable warmth was observed in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures were more than 5 °C above average. Siberian heat culminated in late June, when it reached 38.0 °C at Verkhoyansk on the 20th, provisionally the highest known temperature anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. This fuelled the most active wildfire season in an 18-year long data record. RESPONSE: Here the WMO provides no evidence or argument to attribute the June 2020 temperature events in Verkhoyansk to AGW (anthropogenic global warming) possibly because none exists. In a related post, LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/07/13/siberian-heat-larming-climate-scientists/ we show that these temperature events must be understood as localized and time constrained events and not as creations of AGW specifically since no relationship exists in the relevant global warming data for that period with what occurred in Verkhoyansk. The attribution of the Verkhoyansk temperature events of June 2020 to AGW by the WMO is specious. It has no basis in the theory or in the relevant data for AGW.
  4. CLAIM: Arctic sea-ice reached its annual minimum in September, as the second lowest in the 42-year-old satellite record. Arctic sea ice for July and October 2020 was the lowest on record. Sea-ice in the Laptev Sea has been exceptionally low through the spring, summer and autumn, and the Northern Sea Route was ice-free or close to ice free from July to October 2020. RESPONSE: Here the WMO implies that AGW is responsible for the decline in Arctic sea ice over the last 42 years but no evidence is provided for this attribution possibly because none exists. In related posts we show that no evidence is found in the data that Arctic sea ice extent or volume is responsive to AGW temperature above the Arctic: LINK#1: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/11/07/precipitous-decline-in-arctic-sea-ice-volume/ LINK#2: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/09/28/sea-ice-extent-area-1979-2018/ In another related post we show that the Arctic is geologically active with significant geothermal flux created by the geological features of the Arctic in the Mid-Arctic-Rift, the Baffin Bay Labrador Rift System, and the Greenland-Iceland Mantle Plume, and that they play a role in sea ice melt. LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/07/01/arctic/
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5. CLAIM: Sea-ice in the Laptev Sea has been exceptionally low through the spring, summer and autumn, and the Northern Sea Route was ice-free or close to ice free from July to October 2020. RESPONSE: The Laptev Sea region of the Arctic is a special case in terms of geological activity as explained in a related post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/10/28/arctic-warming-alarm-of-october-2020/ where we show that the geology of the Laptev Sea is best understood in terms of the Laptev Rift System and the Gakkel Slow Spreading Ridge. This part of the Arctic is known for its hydrothermal vents with episodal high levels of hydrothermal heat flux. Therefore episodic extreme sea ice melt in this area can be described in terms of these geological features of the Laptev Sea and not in terms of AGW.

6. CLAIM: Greenland continued to lose ice, losing 152 Gt of ice this year, despite a slower rate than 2019. RESPONSE: In the long time span IMBIE study of Greenland ice melt we find loss rates as high as 250 to 350 Gt of ice per year. Since the WMO position is that atmospheric global warming explains all ice melt events and since global warming has continued to increase the temperature since the IMBIE study, and since 2020 is cited by the WMO as a particularly hot year, some explanation is necessary for the unusually low ice loss from Greenland under the extreme heat conditions described by the WMO in this document. Related post on Greenland ice melt: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/10/30/the-greenland-iceland-mantle-plume/ . Some explanation for this anomaly is required from the World Meteorological Organization.

7. CLAIM: Ocean heat content for 2019 was highest on record in the datasets going back to 1960. There is a clear signal for faster heat uptake in recent decades. More than 90% of the excess energy accumulating in the climate system as a result of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases goes into the ocean. RESPONSE: The ocean heat content data tells us how much heat is in the ocean. It does not tell us where it came from and specifically it does not tell us that it came from the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere and that it didn’t come from the greater heat sources at the bottom of the ocean. In a related post on ocean heat content: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/10/06/ohc/ we show that the distribution of the “ocean heat content” (OHC) in the ocean is not as uniform as one would expect if the source of heat were the atmosphere. What we find is an extreme non-uniform distribution both horizontally and vertically where in many cases, the deep OHC (2000m) exceeds the shallow OHC (700m) in certain geographical regions but not in others. These patterns in OHC imply non-uniform and multiple heat sources and they are therefore inconsistent with the claim that ocean heat content dynamics can be understood in terms of a single source claimed by the WMO to be the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere.

8. CLAIM: As with heatwaves on land, extreme heat can affect the near-surface layer of the oceans with a range of consequences for marine life and dependent communities. Satellite retrievals of sea-surface temperature are used to monitor marine heatwaves, which can be categorized as moderate, strong, severe or extreme. Much of the ocean experienced at least one ‘strong’ marine heatwave at some point in 2020. The Laptev Sea experienced an extreme marine heatwave from June to October. Sea ice extent was unusually low in the region and adjacent land areas experienced heatwaves during the summer. RESPONSE: Marine heatwaves are localized evanescent SST anomalies in shallow waters near land and along continental shelves. These anomalous SST “hotspots” can hang around for days and are classified as MHW only if they persist for 5 days or more. It is generally agreed that since these anomalies tend to occur in proximity to land that proximity to land may be a factor in the creation of these anomalies. Another location oddity of the MHW is that their location is not random but tend to recur in the same location over and over at similar intensities. The MHW markers are color coded for temperature – the darker the hotter. As the video steps through time one month at a time we find that hardly any MWH lasts longer than a month. A notable exception is seen in the Arctic where a small cluster of intense MHW appears to persist longer. We also see in this video that MHW locations month to month are not random but that MHW tends to recur in the same location over and over and at the same intensity with the intensity also being location specific. This behavior implies that MHW is a location specific phenomenon. An apparent oddity is that most MHW SST anomalies tend to occur in polar regions both north and south. This pattern is stronger for more intense SST anomalies. Locations of SST anomalies described as Marine Heat Waves do not follow a pattern that would imply a uniform atmospheric cause by way of fossil fuel driven AGW climate change. That they are location specific implies that the cause may also be location specific. The WMO assumes an AGW cause for these SST anomalies but no evidence is provided for that causation and none is found in the bibliography in the related post on MHW: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/01/30/ohw/

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9. CLAIM: Ocean acidification is increasing. The ocean absorbs around 23% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby helping to alleviate the impacts of climate change on the planet. The ecological costs of this process to the ocean are high, as the CO2 reacts with seawater lowering its pH; a process known as ocean acidification. There is decline in average pH at the available observing sites between 2015 and 2019, the last year for which data are currently available. A wider variety of sources including measurements of other variables shows also a steady increase in the global ocean acidification. RESPONSE: The data do show a gradual decline in ocean pH over the past decades but statistical analysis of the data do not show that oceanic pH is responsive to fossil fuel emissions or that there is sufficient CO2 in fossil fuel emissions to explain the observed changes in oceanic pH: LINK#1: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/08/22/ocean-acidification/ LINK#2: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/12/14/ocean-acidification-2019/ . An additional issue that has not been addressed by climate science or by the WMO is that the the extent of known geological activity in the ocean involves much greater flows of carbon and carbon dioxide and these data imply that changes in oceanic pH cannot be understood purely in terms of atmospheric phenomena because the total mass of the atmosphere and of our fossil fuel emissions are insignificant when compared with nature’s own oceanic chemistry as described in the two related posts linked below. The data do show changes in oceanic pH but they do not provide the evidence for the attribution of these changes to fossil fuel emissions.

LINK#1: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/03/20/an-atmosphere-bias-part-2/

LINK#2: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/08/14/ocean-volcanism/

10. CLAIM: Severe flooding affected many millions of people in East Africa and the Sahel, South Asia, China and Viet Nam. In Africa – Sudan and Kenya were the worst hit, with 285 deaths reported in Kenya and 155 in Sudan. Lake Victoria reached record levels in May, the Niger and Nile rivers reached record levels at Niamey (Niger) and Khartoum (Sudan). Flooding also contributed to an ongoing locust outbreak. In South Asia – India experienced one of the two wettest monsoon seasons since 1994​, August was the wettest month on record for Pakistan​, and widespread flooding was observed throughout the region (including Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar). In China – Persistent high rainfall in the Yangtze River catchment during the monsoon season also caused severe flooding. Reported economic losses exceeded US$15 billion, and at least 279 deaths were reported during the period. In Viet Nam – Heavy rains typical of the arrival of the northeast monsoon were exacerbated by a succession of tropical cyclones and depressions, with eight making landfall in less than five weeks. In the interior of South America, severe drought affected many parts in 2020, with the worst-affected areas being northern Argentina, Paraguay and the western border areas of Brazil. Estimated agricultural losses were near US$3 billion in Brazil alone. There was significant wildfire activity across the region, most severe in the Pantanal wetlands of western Brazil. In the USA, the largest fires ever recorded occurred in late summer and autumn. Widespread drought and extreme heat contributed to the fires, and July to September were the hottest and driest on record for the southwest. Death Valley in California reached 54.4 °C on 16 August, the highest known temperature in the world in at least the last 80 years. In the Caribbean, major heatwaves occurred in April and September. Temperatures reached 39.7 °C at Veguitas on 12 April, a national record for Cuba, whilst Havana also had its hottest day with 38.5 °C. Australia broke heat records in early 2020, including the highest observed temperatures in an Australian metropolitan area, in western Sydney when Penrith reached 48.9 °C on 4 January. Europe experienced drought and heatwaves, although these were generally not as intense at in 2019. In the eastern Mediterranean with all-time records set in Jerusalem (42.7 °C) and Eilat (48.9 °C) on 4 September, following a late July heatwave in the Middle East in which Kuwait Airport reached 52.1 °C and Baghdad 51.8 °C. RESPONSE: A laundry list of weather events and wildfire events is presented with the unspoken proposition that they were caused by fossil fuel emissions and that these things can be prevented with climate action in the form of not using fossil fuels. However, no evidence or citation is provided for that attribution. In climate science the minimum required effort for such attribution is what’s called “Event Attribution Science” derived from the UN’s Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) described in a related post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/06/29/diffenbaugh-2017-extreme-weather-of-climate-change/ that was proposed in a UN meeting in which the WMO participated. So what we have here is a laundry list of extreme weather events with the implication but neither the statement nor the evidence that they were caused by fossil fuel emissions and that they could have been avoided with climate action. Yet another consideration in this laundry list is the issue of internal climate variability (ICV) described in a related post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/07/16/the-internal-variability-issue/ . The ICV issue is that AGW is a theory about long term trends in global mean temperature for periods longer than 30 years. Therefore, the interpretation of climate data in terms of AGW requires a long time span and a large geographical span that is either global or a significant latitudinal section thereof. Weather events constrained by geographical localization and brief time intervals of a few days or months have no AGW interpretation because in these cases “Internal variability in the climate system confounds assessment of human-induced climate change and imposes irreducible limits on the accuracy of climate change projections, especially at regional and decadal scales. “. Therefore, though the long laundry list of weather and flooding events saddens readers of the WMO report, their implied attribution to fossil fueled AGW has no basis and none is offered by the WMO.

11. CLAIM: Tropical Cyclones and storms: The number of tropical cyclones globally was above average in 2020, with 96 cyclones as of 17 November in the 2020 Northern Hemisphere and 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere seasons. The North Atlantic region had an exceptionally active season, with 30 tropical cyclones as of 17 November, more than double the long-term average (1981-2010) and breaking the record for a full season, set in 2005. At a time when the season is normally winding down, two Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in Central America in less than two weeks in November, resulting in devastating flooding and many casualties. Cyclone Amphan which made landfall on 20 May near the India-Bangladesh border was the costliest tropical cyclone on record for the North Indian Ocean, with reported economic losses in India of approximately US$14 billion. Large-scale evacuations of coastal areas in India and Bangladesh helped to lower casualties compared to previous cyclones in the region. Approximately 10 million displacements, largely due to hydro-meteorological hazards and disasters, were recorded during the first half of 2020, mainly concentrated in South and South-east Asia and the Horn of Africa. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a further dimension to human mobility concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has added also another layer of risk to evacuation, recovery and relief operations related to high-impact events. In the Philippines, for example, although over 180 000 people were pre-emptively evacuated ahead of Tropical Cyclone Vongfong (Ambo) in mid-May, the need for social distancing measures meant that residents could not be transported in large numbers and evacuation centres could only be used at half capacity. RESPONSE: According to climate science, {See for example Knutson etal 2010}, the impact of AGW on tropical cyclones can be assessed only in terms of total Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for all six cyclone basins over a sufficiently long time span longer than 30 years. Tropical cyclone data for individual cyclone basins (as for example the North Atlantic Basin where tropical cyclones are called Hurricanes or the West Pacific Basin where tropical cyclones are called Typhoons) have no interpretation in terms of AGW. Moreover, tropical cyclone data presented here for the years 2019 and 2020 do not have an AGW interpretation because the time scale is too brief. Although the tragic events described are indeed tragic, the implication that they are the result of fossil fuel emissions and that they could have been avoided by taking climate action and moving away from fossil fuels to renewables, has no basis. Details of this issue in the six related posts linked below: LINK#1: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/09/20/a-failed-obsession-with-tropical-cyclones/ LINK#2: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/03/04/agwcyclones/ LINK#3: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/08/01/tropical-cyclones-climate-change/ LINK#4: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/03/22/ace-sst/ LINK#5: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/11/14/hurricane-obsession/ LINK#6: https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/09/18/climate-change-hurricanes/

12. CLAIM: FOOD INSECURITY: After decades of decline, the recent increase in food insecurity since 2014 is driven by conflicts and economic slowdown as well as by climate variability and extreme weather events. Nearly 690 million people, or 9% of the world population, were undernourished and about 750 million experienced severe levels of food insecurity in 2019 according to the latest FAO data. The number of people classified under crisis, emergency and famine conditions had increased to almost 135 million people across 55 countries. The number of undernourished people in the world. According to FAO and WFP, over 50 million people have been hit twice: by climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Countries in Central America are suffering from the triple-impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19 and pre-existing humanitarian crises. The Government of Honduras estimated that 53 000 hectares of cropland were washed away, mainly rice, beans, and sugarcane. Negative environmental effects include impacts on land such as droughts, wildfires in forest and peatland areas, land degradation, sand and dust storms, desertification and air pollution, with far reaching implications for nature and wildlife. Impacts on marine systems include sea level rise, ocean acidification, reduced levels of ocean oxygen, mangrove decay and coral bleaching. According to International Monetary Fund , the current global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it challenging to enact the policies needed for mitigation, but it also presents opportunities to set the economy on a greener path in order to boost investment in green and resilient public infrastructure, thus supporting GDP and employment during the recovery phase. RESPONSE: Food insecurity is a serious issue in sub-Sahara Africa and parts of Asia and South America and it should not be used by the WMO and the UN to sell their climate agenda. Much of this problem results from a failure of the UN, particularly the UNDP that was formed to address poverty and food insecurity issues but this ideal has been hijacked by the UN’s climate change priority that has imposed a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) priority on the UNDP and thus corrupted its poverty alleviation and food security program. The same UN is here in the form of the WMO shedding alligator tears for food insecurity as a way of selling their climate agenda. Food insecurity is a poverty issue and not a climate issue. The SDG program of the UNDP is described in a related post. LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/03/06/sdg/

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International Food Security: A Look at the Next Decade | USDA
Food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa | IHS Markit

FOOD INSECURITY BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Smith, Lisa C., Amani E. El Obeid, and Helen H. Jensen. “The geography and causes of food insecurity in developing countries.” Agricultural economics 22.2 (2000): 199-215. At the 1996 World Food Summit, 186 countries made a commitment to reduce the number of chronically undernourished people by half by 2015. In order to formulate effective policies for reaching this goal, a thorough understanding of the location and causes of food insecurity is needed. This paper provides a broad overview of the current character of food insecurity in developing countries, focusing on two questions: (1) Why are they food insecure? and (2) Why are the food insecure? To answer the latter question data from 58 developing countries with high prevalences of food insecurity are employed to examine the relative importance of two of food insecurity’s most basic causes: national food availability and the inability of people to access food due to poverty. Using child malnutrition as a proxy (along with descriptive controls for non‐food determinants of malnutrition), the paper finds little correlation between national food availabilities and food insecurity. The group of countries that exhibit the highest severity of food insecurity are those with high poverty and food (dietary energy) surpluses, consistent with the view that poverty is the most widespread cause of food insecurity. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the analysis for appropriate geographical and policy targeting to improve food security for the greatest numbers of people at the fastest pace, now and into the 21st century.
  2. Clover, Jenny. “Food security in sub-Saharan Africa.” African Security Studies 12.1 (2003): 5-15. The right to food is one of those most consistently mentioned in international human rights documents, but it is the one most frequently violated in recent times. Targets set by the World Food Summit in 1996 for the reduction of hunger have largely failed, despite food production having grown faster than world population. Global, national and human security issues are increasingly converging, and in some regions overlapping. Some 840 million people worldwide are malnourished, the highest percentage of these being in Africa. The magnitude of the problem in Africa has now reached unprecedented crisis levels—some 38 million people face “an urgent and imminent threat to their peace, security and stability”. The reasons why action plans to address food security have continued to fall short can be attributed to faulty analysis and faulty actions. What is needed is an understanding that goes beyond conventional, orthodox wisdom to work more strategically in developing and implementing effective, international, national and regional policies. Availability, access and affordability are all elements of food security, complex issues that encompass a wide range of interrelated economic, social and political factors, internal and external, which challenge Africa’s ability to address food security. Ultimately hunger is a political creation which must be ended by political means.
  3. Nyariki, Dickson M., and Steve Wiggins. “Household food insecurity in sub‐Saharan Africa: lessons from Kenya.” British food journal (1997). Despite the widely acknowledged prognosis that the danger of unrelenting hunger and famine looms large in sub‐Saharan Africa and that there is a constant need for donors to provide much required food relief, there is a paucity of literature based on comprehensive empirical work at the household or individual level. Based on data collected across two years and two locations in rural Kenya, attempts to develop further the literature on household food security. Food balances are computed and various approaches to food poverty analysis are employed by setting a very low poverty line to determine the proportion of households whose members would require external food support. Results show that per capita food production is low and varies with rainfall, and food poverty and inequality in distribution are high. A great deal could be done, therefore, in the sphere of livelihood opportunities to enhance household purchasing power and hence effective demand and food distribution.
  4. Baro, Mamadou, and Tara F. Deubel. “Persistent hunger: Perspectives on vulnerability, famine, and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.” Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 35 (2006): 521-538. This review examines the persistence of chronic hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa in the twenty-first century and reviews dominant famine theories, concepts of vulnerability, and household livelihood security and responses to recent food crises in the region. The authors argue that famine occurrences are linked to historical and contemporary socioeconomic processes that have increased over time the vulnerability of African households to hunger and reduced their resilience to environmental and economic shocks, political conflict, and the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. Approaches to famine need to move away from the “emergency relief” framework to better address the underlying conditions that make food shortages endemic. Future food security for Africa requires an integrated long-term response to household vulnerability on the part of African governments, civil society, and international partners by incorporating new technologies, local expertise, and active involvement of African communities living with the realities of recurrent famine.
  5. Hesselberg, Jan, and Joseph A. Yaro. “An assessment of the extent and causes of food insecurity in northern Ghana using a livelihood vulnerability framework.” GeoJournal 67.1 (2006): 41-55. The article describes the food insecurity situation in three villages in northern Ghana. A livelihood approach is used emphasising the vulnerability of the peasants’ adaptation to a marginal and remote area. The peasant households are grouped according to level of food insecurity. It is argued that multiple income sources including non-farm activities are necessary to reduce food insecurity for all but a small part of the peasant households.
  6. Maxwell, Daniel. “The political economy of urban food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.” World Development 27.11 (1999): 1939-1953. Sub-Saharan African cities in the late 1990s face a daunting set of problems including rapid growth, increasing poverty, deteriorating infrastructure, and inadequate capacity for service provision. Even as a renewed debate is shaping up around issues of urban development, there is little attention given to the question of urban food security. Whereas in the 1970s and 1980s, urban food problems in Africa commanded political attention, the nature of urban food insecurity in the 1990s is such that it has tended to lose political importance. This is largely because in the 1970s, the problem was one of outright food shortages and rapid price changes that affected large portions of the urban population simultaneously. The impact of structural adjustment, continued rapid growth, and an increase in poverty make urban food insecurity in the 1990s primarily a problem of access by the urban poor. Under circumstances where the urban poor spend a very large portion of their total income on food, urban poverty rapidly translates into food insecurity. The lack of formal safety nets, and the shifting of responsibility for coping with food insecurity away from the state towards the individual and household level has tended to atomize and muffle any political response to this new urban food insecurity. This paper briefly reviews urban food insecurity and generates a set of empirical questions for an analysis of food and livelihood security in contemporary urban sub-Saharan Africa, and then examines historical and contemporary evidence from Kampala, Uganda, and Accra, Ghana, to suggest some tentative conclusions.
  7. Del Ninno, Carlo, Paul A. Dorosh, and Kalanidhi Subbarao. “Food aid, domestic policy and food security: Contrasting experiences from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.” Food Policy 32.4 (2007): 413-435. Food aid, both for short-term emergency relief and as program food aid that helps address medium-term food “deficits”, is often a major component of food security strategies in developing countries. This study reviews the experience with food aid of four major recipients of food aid (India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Zambia) regarding food production, trade, markets, consumption and safety nets, as well as the policy responses to food emergencies. The widely varying experiences of the study countries suggest that food aid that supports building of production and market enhancing infrastructure, is timed to avoid adverse price effects on producers, and is targeted to food insecure households can play a positive role in enhancing food security. However, food aid is not the only, or in many cases, the most efficient means of addressing food insecurity. In many cases private markets can more effectively address shortfalls in food availability and cash transfers may be a viable alternative to food transfers in-kind.
  8. Legwegoh, Alexander F., and Evan DG Fraser. “Food crisis or chronic poverty: metanarratives of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition 10.3 (2015): 313-342. This article examines different depictions of the challenges presented by food insecurity and how these depictions influence programming and policy. Using a content analysis methodology, we contrast 3 distinct bodies of food security literature: (1) recently published scientific papers; (2) international development agencies project documents; and (3) reports and policy documents produced by Sub-Saharan African governments. Analysis reveals 2 main narratives: a “crisis narrative” that views food insecurity as a “production” crisis, common in the scientific and aid agency documents, and a “chronic poverty narrative” that views food insecurity as fundamentally linked to poverty and low economic development, predominantly in the African policy documents. By identifying and describing these 2 distinct narratives, our goal is to initiate a debate around the hegemony of narratives, especially the production crisis narrative. In particular, we are concerned that the notion that we are facing a “food production crisis” overwhelms the description of food insecurity as an issue linked to chronic poverty and in doing so fails to lead to meaningful change in Africa.

PART-2: THE REPORT

Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015. Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80% of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, with widespread repercussions for marine ecosystems already suffering from more acidic waters due to carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption. The report shows how high-impact events including extreme heat, wildfires and floods, as well as the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, affected millions of people, compounding threats to human health and security and economic stability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, committing the planet to further warming for many generations to come because of the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere. The average global temperature in 2020 is set to be about 1.2 °C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C by 2024. This year is the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We welcome all the recent commitments by governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because we are currently not on track and more efforts are needed. Record warm years have usually coincided with a strong El Niño event, as was the case in 2016. We are now experiencing a La Niña, which has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but has not been sufficient to put a brake on this year’s heat. Despite the current La Niña conditions, this year has already shown near record heat comparable to the previous record of 2016.

2020 is yet another extraordinary year for our climate. We saw new extreme temperatures on land, sea and especially in the Arctic. Wildfires consumed vast areas in Australia, Siberia, the US West Coast and South America, sending plumes of smoke circumnavigating the globe. We saw a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, including unprecedented back-to-back category 4 hurricanes in Central America in November. Flooding in parts of Africa and South East Asia led to massive population displacement and undermined food security for millions.

START HERE: The global mean temperature for January to October 2020 was around 1.2°C above the 1850–1900 baseline, used as an approximation of pre-industrial levels. 2020 is very likely to be one of the three warmest years on record globally. Modern temperature records began in 1850. This assessment is based on five global temperature datasets. All five of those datasets currently place 2020 as the 2nd warmest for the year to date, following 2016 and ahead of 2019. The most notable warmth was observed across northern Asia, particularly the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures were more than 5 °C above average. Siberian heat culminated in late June, when it reached 38.0 °C at Verkhoyansk on the 20th, provisionally the highest known temperature anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. This fuelled the most active wildfire season in an 18-year long data record, as estimated in terms of CO2 emissions released from fires. Since the mid-1980s, the Arctic has warmed at least twice as fast as the global average, reinforcing a long downward trend in summer Arctic sea ice extent which has repercussions on the climate in mid-latitude regions. Arctic sea-ice reached its annual minimum in September, as the second lowest in the 42-year-old satellite record. Arctic sea ice for July and October 2020 was the lowest on record. Sea-ice in the Laptev Sea has been exceptionally low through the spring, summer and autumn, and the Northern Sea Route was ice-free or close to ice free from July to October 2020. Antarctic ice in 2020 was close to or slightly above the 42-year mean. ​Greenland continued to lose ice, losing 152 Gt of ice this year, despite a slower rate than 2019. Ocean heat content for 2019 was highest on record in the datasets going back to 1960. There is a clear signal for faster heat uptake in recent decades. More than 90% of the excess energy accumulating in the climate system as a result of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases goes into the ocean. On average, since early 1993, the altimetry-based global mean rate of sea level rise amounts to 3.3 ± 0.3 mm/yr. The rate has also increased over that time. A greater loss of ice mass from the ice sheets is the main cause of the accelerated rise in the global mean sea level. Global mean sea-level in 2020 is similar to that in 2019, and consistent with the long-term trend. Developing La Niña conditions have led to a recent small drop in global sea level, similar to the temporary drops associated with previous La Niña events. As with heatwaves on land, extreme heat can affect the near-surface layer of the oceans with a range of consequences for marine life and dependent communities. Satellite retrievals of sea-surface temperature are used to monitor marine heatwaves, which can be categorized as moderate, strong, severe or extreme. Much of the ocean experienced at least one ‘strong’ marine heatwave at some point in 2020. The Laptev Sea experienced an extreme marine heatwave from June to October. Sea ice extent was unusually low in the region and adjacent land areas experienced heatwaves during the summer. Ocean acidification is increasing. The ocean absorbs around 23% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby helping to alleviate the impacts of climate change on the planet. The ecological costs of this process to the ocean are high, as the CO2 reacts with seawater lowering its pH; a process known as ocean acidification. There is decline in average pH at the available observing sites between 2015 and 2019, the last year for which data are currently available. A wider variety of sources including measurements of other variables shows also a steady increase in the global ocean acidification. Severe flooding affected many millions of people in East Africa and the Sahel, South Asia, China and Viet Nam. In Africa – Sudan and Kenya were the worst hit, with 285 deaths reported in Kenya and 155 in Sudan. Lake Victoria reached record levels in May, the Niger and Nile rivers reached record levels at Niamey (Niger) and Khartoum (Sudan). Flooding also contributed to an ongoing locust outbreak. In South Asia – India experienced one of the two wettest monsoon seasons since 1994​, August was the wettest month on record for Pakistan​, and widespread flooding was observed throughout the region (including Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar). In China – Persistent high rainfall in the Yangtze River catchment during the monsoon season also caused severe flooding. Reported economic losses exceeded US$15 billion, and at least 279 deaths were reported during the period. In Viet Nam – Heavy rains typical of the arrival of the northeast monsoon were exacerbated by a succession of tropical cyclones and depressions, with eight making landfall in less than five weeks. In the interior of South America, severe drought affected many parts in 2020, with the worst-affected areas being northern Argentina, Paraguay and the western border areas of Brazil. Estimated agricultural losses were near US$3 billion in Brazil alone. There was significant wildfire activity across the region, most severe in the Pantanal wetlands of western Brazil. In the USA, the largest fires ever recorded occurred in late summer and autumn. Widespread drought and extreme heat contributed to the fires, and July to September were the hottest and driest on record for the southwest. Death Valley in California reached 54.4 °C on 16 August, the highest known temperature in the world in at least the last 80 years. In the Caribbean, major heatwaves occurred in April and September. Temperatures reached 39.7 °C at Veguitas on 12 April, a national record for Cuba, whilst Havana also had its hottest day with 38.5 °C. Australia broke heat records in early 2020, including the highest observed temperatures in an Australian metropolitan area, in western Sydney when Penrith reached 48.9 °C on 4 January. Europe experienced drought and heatwaves, although these were generally not as intense at in 2019. In the eastern Mediterranean with all-time records set in Jerusalem (42.7 °C) and Eilat (48.9 °C) on 4 September, following a late July heatwave in the Middle East in which Kuwait Airport reached 52.1 °C and Baghdad 51.8 °C.

Tropical Cyclones and storms: The number of tropical cyclones globally was above average in 2020, with 96 cyclones as of 17 November in the 2020 Northern Hemisphere and 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere seasons. The North Atlantic region had an exceptionally active season, with 30 tropical cyclones as of 17 November, more than double the long-term average (1981-2010) and breaking the record for a full season, set in 2005. At a time when the season is normally winding down, two Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in Central America in less than two weeks in November, resulting in devastating flooding and many casualties. Cyclone Amphan which made landfall on 20 May near the India-Bangladesh border was the costliest tropical cyclone on record for the North Indian Ocean, with reported economic losses in India of approximately US$14 billion. Large-scale evacuations of coastal areas in India and Bangladesh helped to lower casualties compared to previous cyclones in the region. Approximately 10 million displacements, largely due to hydro-meteorological hazards and disasters, were recorded during the first half of 2020, mainly concentrated in South and South-east Asia and the Horn of Africa.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a further dimension to human mobility concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has added also another layer of risk to evacuation, recovery and relief operations related to high-impact events. In the Philippines, for example, although over 180 000 people were pre-emptively evacuated ahead of Tropical Cyclone Vongfong (Ambo) in mid-May, the need for social distancing measures meant that residents could not be transported in large numbers and evacuation centres could only be used at half capacity.

After decades of decline, the recent increase in food insecurity since 2014 is driven by conflicts and economic slowdown as well as by climate variability and extreme weather events. Nearly 690 million people, or 9% of the world population, were undernourished and about 750 million experienced severe levels of food insecurity in 2019 according to the latest FAO data. The number of people classified under crisis, emergency and famine conditions had increased to almost 135 million people across 55 countries. The number of undernourished people in the world. According to FAO and WFP, over 50 million people have been hit twice: by climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Countries in Central America are suffering from the triple-impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19 and pre-existing humanitarian crises. The Government of Honduras estimated that 53 000 hectares of cropland were washed away, mainly rice, beans, and sugarcane.

Negative environmental effects include impacts on land such as droughts, wildfires in forest and peatland areas, land degradation, sand and dust storms, desertification and air pollution, with far reaching implications for nature and wildlife. Impacts on marine systems include sea level rise, ocean acidification, reduced levels of ocean oxygen, mangrove decay and coral bleaching.

According to International Monetary Fund , the current global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it challenging to enact the policies needed for mitigation, but it also presents opportunities to set the economy on a greener path in order to boost investment in green and resilient public infrastructure, thus supporting GDP and employment during the recovery phase.

2 Responses to "WMO REPORT DEC 2020"

Way to go! Good detailed rebuttals to Climate fear-mongers.
Keep up the good work!

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  • chaamjamal: Thanks. A specific issue in climate science is correlation between time series data where spurious correlations are the creations of shared trends, s
  • Jack Broughton: I remember a paper published in the 1970s by Peter Rowe of UCL in which he showed how even random numbers can be processed to seem to correlate by usi
  • chaamjamal: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/10/09/a-data-selection-bias/
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